Day 54 – Quebec City to Saint André, PQ – 175km

Kerr, my dad, and I slept the night inside the
institution. That sentence sounds eerie, but I assure you, it wasn’t. There was
an intense storm at 5:30am. I was grateful to be sleeping in a bed (getting to
stretch out, yay!), have a lengthy warm shower, and not to be sleeping in a
tent during that storm. I like tenting, but not when there’s a chance that I’ll
get flooded.

When I actually got out of bed at 8am, there wasn’t a
cloud in the sky. We gathered our stuff and headed down to the cafeteria for
breakfast. We’ve been treated very well in Quebec. Our wonderful hosts had
arranged for us to have a complimentary dinner the night before, and for us to
have a free breakfast. While ordering and waiting for my breakfast I met a
young fellow named Marc. He actually helped me order my breakfast; he’s
bilingual. He was staying at the hospital because he was getting surgery on one
of his legs. He was quite friendly and had a warm personality. He seemed to
know all the staff that came in for their morning coffee or muffin. I admire
Marc. Here’s a young guy—several years younger than me—who’s obviously endured
more frustrations than the average person due to difficulties with his legs.
Yet, he’s not bitter in the slightest. He possesses a charismatic personality
and appreciation for others that’s rare.

I got my hearty egg, ham, toast, and potato breakfast.
Timo, Jeff, Melisa and Sari were just finishing up their meals as we sat down.
They set up a tent behind the building for the night. They were eager to get
inside after the early morning storm, but luckily their tent didn’t get
flooded. Jeff was going to be joining me for his first of 2 days on the bike.
Day 1: 175km. He seemed in good spirits, but I think he may have been a little
nervous in anticipation of the challenge ahead of him.

No one at the table finished their breakfast; except me.
Everyone gave me their uneaten toast, potatoes, and meat. As I was finishing up
my dream breakfast, there was an announcement over the building’s PA system. It
was in French, but I could understand it. A few minutes ago, Louise came into
the cafeteria to check up on me; to see how I was doing for timing. The
announcement was asking staff to be out front of the main entrance shortly. I
wolfed down the last of my food, and hustled to get dressed in bike gear, and
get my bike together. I got to the building entrance a little late. The rest of
my family, along with the institution’s staff were all standing, cheering.
Awkward spotlight moment.

Yesterday at our arrival lunch, a piece explaining what
our journey meant to the staff at au centre Cardinal Villeneuve, IRDPQ, was
read to us in English. On this morning, that was read in French. We were given
a brief introduction, we said a few words ourselves, and then it was time to
hit the road. Louise and Sophie were joining Jeff and I for the first leg of
the trip. The staff at au centre Cardinal Villeneuve, IRDPQ, gave us a farewell
wave. Louise and Sophie biked with us across the older and less busy of the two
bridges crossing the St. Lawrence River to the south shore. They made sure that
Jeff and I got on the right bike path, and then turned around to head back.

Louise Lefoit Leblanc, Louise Pagé, Isabelle Savard, and
Marie-Christine Corriveau, thank you! We had a pleasant stay in your city, we
enjoyed meeting everyone, and we are well-rested. Merci!

Jeff and I were able to follow the path for a bit. Then
it seemed to disappear at a busy intersection. I tried to ask someone for
directions, but my poor French slaughtered the conversation. My gestures
weren’t successful either. Jeff and I ended up following an arterial out to the
country, which eventually turned into a beautiful road with a paved shoulder.
We had a tailwind. There were some hills, but we made decent time.

It was a long day for someone who’s never done lots of
cycling to start with, but Jeff managed well. I loved cycling through the
charming, small, rural towns. Highway 132 followed the shore of the St.
Lawrence and lush green fields and rolling hills were always to our right.

We finished the day at the SEBKA Campground near Saint
André. Our site was on a cliff overlooking the St. Lawrence River. This site
certainly had one of the best views of the sites we’ve stayed at on the trip so
far. Jeff’s family was also sharing the site with us. We had an RV, a
full-sized wheelchair accessible van, a Honda CRV, a kitchen tent, and 2
sleeping tents set up and there was still space to walk around and see the view
(we had 2 sites that were directly joined). We watched a hazy pink and orange
sunset over the river and the Laurentians on the other side of the river.

I set up my tent right by the edge of the lookout. This
was my dream tent spot. I could smell a little bit of salt in the air and there
were tidelands!  I’m getting close to the
Atlantic!

-Skye

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